A generation or two ago, unplanned teenage pregnancies were just part of every day life. Women were getting married earlier, having children earlier, and there wasn’t much of a stigma against it. Teen mothers who weren’t married and were getting pregnant, however, were also treated much differently. They were cast aside by many of their communities, forced to live in boarding homes or with relatives until they had their child or decided to have an abortion.
Statistics on Unplanned Teenage Pregnancies
1. In 2013, there were 26.6 births for every 1,000 teen US girls between the ages of 15-19.
2. The total number of infants born to this age demographic in the United States: 274,641.
3. 98%. That’s the percentage of teenage pregnancies that occur outside of marriage in the United States.
4. 1 in 7 unplanned teenage pregnancies are to teen girls in the 15-19 age group that have already had at least one pregnancy.
5. The US teen birth rate in 1991: 61.8 births for every 1,000 girls in the targeted age demographic.
6. Teens had fewer babies in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s.
7. The percentage of teen births that occur to women who are either 18 or 19 years old: 73%.
8. Estimates from 2012 data show that 1 in 8 teen girls [12.5%] in the United States will give birth by her 20th birthday.
9. Hispanic teens have the highest risk of having an unplanned teenage pregnancy, with 1 in 5 girls having an infant before their 20th birthday. African-American girls are just behind them with an 18% risk, while Caucasians have half the risk of their minority counterparts.
10. In 2012, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had the highest birth rate at 46.3 per 1,000.
11. Since 2007, the teen birth rate has declined by 39% for Hispanics, compared with declines of 41% for African-Americans and 25% for Caucasians.
12. In 2012, the lowest teen birth rates were reported in the Northeast, while rates were highest in states across the southern part of the country.
13. About 77% of teen pregnancies are unplanned.
14. 60%. That’s the percentage of teen pregnancies that will result in a birth. 30% of teen girls will choose to have an abortion.
15. In 2010, $9.4 billion was spent on teen childbearing.
16. Since the peak of teen pregnancies in 1991, there has been a 57% reduction in the rate of unplanned teen pregnancies.
17. More than 50% of teen mothers never graduate from high school.
18. About 25% of teen moms have a 2nd child within 24 months of their first baby.
19. Fewer than 2% of teenage mothers will earn a college degree before the age of 30.
20. The percentage of teenage fathers who will one day go on to marry the mother of their child: 20%.
21. Almost half of all teens have never considered how a pregnancy would affect their lives.
22. Teens who don’t use contraception during sexual intercourse have a 90% chance of becoming pregnant or causing a pregnancy within 1 year.
Historic Trends of Teenage Pregnancy
Times have changed and it hasn’t always been for the better. Teen mothers are much more accepted in their communities today, but with rises in the average age of marriage and the American practice of engagement with multiple partners has led to higher levels of unplanned teenage pregnancies. A lack of available contraceptives to teens is also a major issue. Combine the fact that most teens don’t know how to use contraceptives or even have access to them while having sex with multiple partners and the stage is set for an unplanned teenage pregnancy.
The rates of teenage pregnancy in the United States have been steadily decreasing over the last 20 years, which is good news. The bad news for the US is that the unplanned teenage pregnancy rates are significantly higher than most other developed country. The contributing factor in this difference is that most other developed nations have made contraception much more affordable and accessible to this age demographic.
As the statistics show, unplanned teenage pregnancy doesn’t have to change the future of today’s teen, but it takes a lot of work to get life back on track.
Impact and End Result
In an unplanned teenage pregnancy, the only positive that tends to come from the experience is the joy of a new life. Teen mothers struggle to finish their education. Teen fathers move on with their life. The extended family begins to pick up the cost of caring for the child.
There are a few things that we can all do to make sure that the unplanned teenage pregnancy rates continue to drop as they have been over the last two decades. The first would be to make contraception much easier to obtain. Even improperly used contraceptives are better than not using any contraception at all if a teen is going to be sexually active.
We must combine that with a better system of sexual education. Abstinence-only programs may appease those who have religious or moral objects to pre-marital sex, but they aren’t working. Up to 75% of teens don’t know how to properly use contraceptives. 1 in 3 teens doesn’t even have access to them or has ever learned about them. Considering only 2 abstinence-only programs have been found to be accurate in their approach to education about the reproductive cycle, it behooves us to begin making changes so that we can teach responsibility.
To solve the issue of multiple partners is a multi-faceted issue that doesn’t have an easy answer. American teens move between relationships faster than their counterparts and it seems to a reflection of society in general more than anything else. People are moving faster through transitions in the US in many fields, including employment. Is it possible to make positive long-term decisions while moving at a fast pace of life? The answer to that question will determine if we can continue to encourage drops in the unplanned teenage pregnancy statistics.